Famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz has extended a truce offer to the prominent U.S. litigator David Boies after the two attorneys squared off in a year-long battle over the handling of underage sex allegations against Dershowitz.
The allegations were struck from court record last year but have still rankled the 77-year-old Harvard law professor and prompted him to publicly criticize lawyers representing the alleged victim, Virginia Roberts.
“It’s a tragedy that we have gotten into this personal conflict, and I would like to put this to an end,” said Dershowitz, in an interview Saturday night, after a defamation settlement with other lawyers in the matter was announced Friday. “We both do important things and it’s a distraction.”
On Friday, Dershowitz settled a defamation lawsuit with Florida lawyers Bradley Edwards and Paul Cassell, who sued Dershowitz last year after he made public statements about their representation of Roberts, including an interview with CNN International in which he called them “sleazy, unprofessional and unethical.”
The controversy started in December 2014, when Roberts claimed that convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with Dershowitz, the U.K’.s Prince Andrew and other men, at Epstein’s private Caribbean island and other places, more than 15 years ago. Roberts never filed suit against Dershowitz — Boies pointed to a statute of limitations that restricted her from doing so — but she made the claims to join a federal case filed in 2008 by other alleged victims of Epstein, who sued the U.S. government to quash a non-prosecution agreement with Epstein.
Today, no claims are pending against Dershowitz regarding the alleged sex acts, which he and Prince Andrew have denied. A federal judge last year ordered the claims struck from the record because they weren’t relevant to the 2008 case. And in the settlement Friday, Edwards and Cassell issued a joint statement with Dershowitz acknowledging that it was a mistake to have filed sexual misconduct accusations against him. The pact came with a statement from former FBI director Louis Freeh, who said he conducted an internal investigation into the accusations against Dershowitz but that “the totality of the evidence” refuted the claims. Yet, Dershowitz has nonetheless made a point to speak out against Roberts’ lawyers, including David Boies, who he feels have acted inappropriately for representing a client with frivolous claims, among other things.
[caption id="attachment_11646" align="alignleft” width="334"][Image “David Boies, chairman of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg " (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/202856580-e1460334193173.jpg)]David Boies, chairman of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg[/caption]
Boies, in an interview, said that “Alan has been loose with some of the things he says” which he said have been used as a strategy to deflect attention from himself. He also said that Roberts stands by her allegations against Dershowitz, even though they are no longer filed in court, and that Boies’s firm has done nothing wrong.
“I don’t know what Mr. Freeh did,” said Boies, in response to the Freeh investigation. “Louis Freeh never contacted me — he never contacted my client, he never called up Sigrid McCawley, who is the lawyer day-to-day representing her, to say, ‘Can I see your client? Can I see what documentation your client has? Can I talk to any other witnesses?’”
Dershowitz responded by saying that if Boies is willing to have Freeh speak with Virginia Roberts, “she should expect a call next week.” Freeh was not immediately available for comment.
Boies also questioned the terms of the settlement, saying, “What did he have to give up? How much did he have to pay to avoid this litigation?”
After Friday’s settlement, the only outstanding piece of related litigation against Dershowitz is a motion for sanctions that Boies’ firm filed in December 2015 in Florida circuit court. The motion said that Dershowitz disclosed confidential settlement discussions with Roberts’ lawyers and wrongfully characterized what was said when he told media outlets that Boies told him privately that he believed he was innocent. Boies disputes he ever said it.
“I am perfectly willing to bury the hatchet with David Boies,” said Dershowitz, on Saturday. “We used to be friends. I think we had mutual respect for each other. I think it’s a tragedy that we have come into conflict, and I extend an offer to him to sit down and try to resolve our differences. Just between two old friends — agree where we agree, disagree where we disagree — shake hands and go on with our lives.”
He said that he likes to live by the Jewish Law called Lashon Hara, which he said prohibits falsely speaking ill of anybody.
“I actually have told him, that if he thinks I said anything that is wrong, to tell me what it is and I will correct the record,” said Dershowitz. “I don’t want to say anything false about anybody.”
Dershowitz’s comments came after a contentious back-and-forth set of interviews, in which the two lawyers went from attacking each other and calling each other liars, to Dershowitz’s nostalgic invitation, referring to Boies as “an old friend” who he was introduced to years ago through the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).
“It has been a disappointment to me that our friendship has been hurt by this conflict, because it’s not really between me and him — it’s between a woman who made up a story and me, and I’ve resolved that, so we should move on with our lives,” said Dershowitz.
Boies, in response, issued the following statement: “I am certainly willing to sit down with Alan Dershowitz. Everything I have said about Alan publicly, and in court, has been in response to something he has said about me or my firm.”
The invitation marks a twist in the legal battle between Boies and Dershowitz, and it could be one of the last chapters of their high profile feud.
For years, both have operated at the top of the legal profession: Boies, the chairman of Boies Schiller & Flexner, was instrumental in overturning California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage and counts some of the largest corporations and U.S. politicians as clients.
Dershowitz is perhaps most prominently known for being the appellate defense lawyer in the murder trial of O.J. Simpson in 1995, and, an outspoken supporter of gun control, he is a frequent speaker on the U.S. legal system. His other clients have included Mike Tyson and Patty Hearst.
The interviews — two with Dershowitz, and one hour-long interview with Boies — started after Dershowitz’s defamation settlement was announced on Friday. At first, Dershowitz continued to criticize Roberts’ lawyers — including Boies, saying that “he has some very hard questions to answer” — and vowed to advocate for law reform that would prevent meritless claims from being brought against innocent people. He told Big Law Business that he hopes at least Roberts will be investigated by law officials for perjury.
[caption id="attachment_11651" align="alignright” width="225"][Image “Alan Dershowitz attends Hulu Presents “Triumph’s Election Special” produced by Funny Or Die at NEP Studios on February 3, 2016 in New York City. Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images for Hulu” (src=https://bol.bna.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/GettyImages-508280642.jpg)]Alan Dershowitz attends Hulu Presents “Triumph’s Election Special” produced by Funny Or Die at NEP Studios on February 3, 2016 in New York City. Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images for Hulu[/caption]
Boies fired back, saying that he welcomes law enforcement officials to become involved in the case to investigate perjury, including any possible perjury Dershowitz could have committed.
Asked what kind of charges could be brought against Dershowitz, Boies said: “I’m not trying to fuel this by making charges against Alan... His situation is sad enough.”
Dershowitz said he is happy to cooperate with any law agency that would investigate “whether it is she or I that is lying.” He also said that he took issue with how the sex allegations were handled from the start, in 2014 and 2015.
“It really paints the prominent people in the legal profession in a very bad light,” said Dershowitz. “Lawyers shouldn’t be doing things like this. They should be careful. They shouldn’t be making mistakes. For them, it was a mistake, but for me it was 15 months of being waterboarded with these claims, and you can imagine what it means for my grandchildren. They never even called me and asked if there was any proof that it could have happened.”
Dershowitz said that he kept meticulous records of his whereabouts through cell phone and other records and was able to track that he wasn’t near the Caribbean island on dates that Roberts had alleged he had sex with her, around 2000.
“Remember, I’m a lawyer — I bill by the hour. I have a record of every single day,” said Dershowitz. “She said she had dinner with Bill Clinton on the island twice, and we did a FOIA request and found that Bill Clinton was never on the island. She said she met Al Gore on the island, and he was never on the island. And David Boies could have easily checked that. All he had to do was pick up the phone and make the phone call, but he didn’t do it.”
Boies, in turn, said that Dershowitz “doesn’t know what I did or did not do” and that whether they were on the island or not “was wholly irrelevant” to Boies’s involvement in court.
Separately, Dershowitz took issue with the way he said Boies’ firm approached him after Roberts’ claims first arose in late 2014. Dershowitz said that one of Boies Schiller’s lawyers, Carlos Sires, emailed and then called him, saying that he would represent Dershowitz and asked him to turn over documents related to the Roberts case, including his case strategy and “some investigative work,” Dershowitz said.
“And then, only then, did he tell me he wouldn’t represent me,” said Dershowitz.
“Initially, they lied about the reason. They said that one of their partners was the chair of Columbia University and they didn’t want to get involved in cases involving academics. That was a blatant lie. So while they were representing Virginia Roberts, they got all my client privileged information.”
Sires, contacted Sunday, disputed Dershowtiz’s account, saying that it is not accurate, and that there was no conflict. “We challenged Mr. Dershowitz many months ago that if he thought there was any support for his claim whatsoever he should bring it to court,” said Sires via email. “He did not do so. He did not do so because his claim is baseless.”
Earlier on Saturday evening, Boies said in an interview that Dershowitz isn’t a party to any lawsuit he is handling, and that Dershowitz’s criticism of him and his firm is misplaced.
Boies’s firm is currently only representing Roberts in a defamation case against British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell for saying that Roberts made “obvious lies” when accusing Maxwell of recruiting Roberts to become a victim of sex trafficking between 1999 to 2002.
“Alan Dershowitz is not a party to that litigation,” said Boies. “There is a statute of limitations issue. He could only be sued for sexual abuse of a minor if he waived the statute of limitations, and he has declined to do that... All he has to do is sign his name — sign a piece of paper like the one that has been given to him, and if he’s lost it, we’ll give it to him again.”
Instead, Boies said that Dershowitz has reverted to a “very sad” PR campaign against the lawyers representing Roberts.
Dershowitz disputed Boies’s comments that he declined to waive the statute of limitations, saying that he filed an affidavit under oath that he never had sex with Roberts, which opened himself up to a perjury indictment if prosecutors felt that he could have been lying.
But Boies, like Sires, said that Dershowitz has not brought any of his claims against the firm in court, even though Boies Schiller has encouraged him to do so.
“He’s obviously more comfortable making claims to reporters than he is making claims in court,” said Boies. “He can get away with that to a point, but he’s not going to get away with that with me. When he first made these claims with, for example my firm, we wrote him a letter that said, ‘Put up or shut up, bring these claims to court or move on.’ ”
Dershowitz issued a statement following Boies’s comments, saying, “I may well do so.”
Asked if Boies has considered bringing his own defamation lawsuit against Dershowitz, Boies dismissed the possibility, saying “almost all public debate belongs in the public field... I’m also comfortable with the public record.”
For the meantime, Boies Schiller’s sanction motion against Dershowitz in a Florida circuit court remains outstanding. Dershowitz said that a hearing in Florida will take place in mid-May regarding the sanctions motion, but he hopes that his invitation to Boies will smooth over their fractured relationship. At most, he confirmed that the discussions, if successful, could result in another settlement to put the entire Roberts matter behind him.
“I mean, that would be a show of good faith, but we’re prepared to litigate,” said Dershowitz. “We have all of our litigation strategies lined up.”
(This story has been updated to include details about Dershowitz’s settlement and additional comments from Boies and Dershowitz)